Traveling Hurts

In the airport cafeteria, the little girl puts a penny and two quarters into the slots of a penny-pressing machine. Her dad helps her crank the lever. A moment later, her penny emerges from the bottom of the machine, now an oval with an impression the shape of Kaua'i on it. She holds it in one tiny hand and studies it.

"It's a penny!" She says excitedly, holding it up to her father.

"No," he says, "it's not a penny anymore, sweetie."

She looks perplexed. "Yes, it started as a penny, so it's still a penny."

"It's still copper," he says, "but you can't pay with it anymore."

"But it's still made out of penny stuff, so it's a penny." She says this to her father with an air of confidence, as if he were a six year old and she were an adult. He pauses briefly, mulling this over in his head.

"That doesn't matter," he says tiredly, "because it is different now, so businesses won't accept it."

She looks up at him for a moment, confused.

"Well if you want to pay with it you just have to put it back through the machine."

He sighs, then gives her a wry smile with tired cheeks.

"No sweetie. The machine only works one way."